A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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About Your Banjo
I don't want to get too wrapped up in banjo setup here because if you are reading this book I am assuming that you have been playing for at least a little while and you probably already have things set to your liking.
There is a current popular trend to set up "old time" banjos with a high action and a soft or plunky tone. That could make a good many of the techniques presented here more difficult than they really need to be.
How you set up your banjo is entirely up to you. It is, after all, your banjo. That said, when it comes to choosing equipment for a journey you want think logically rather than emotionally. You don't want to select the walking shoe with a popular brand logo over one that actually fits and functions.
My preferred setup is fairly simple. I use light gauge banjo strings with an adjustable tailpiece cranked down to keep the strings under a fair amount of tension. The action is set extremely low and the head is tightened so that the feet of the bridge don't sink into the head. With this setup I am able to get a wide range of tone and volume out of the instrument without any wasted effort on my part.
If you find yourself having to really slam down on the strings with your picking hand to get volume or if fretting requires excessive effort then my advice would be to think seriously about updating your setup. You have enough challenges to deal with without making your banjo difficult to play.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III